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WDW: 40 years later, and it’s still evolving

From a massive expansion to Fantasyland to construction of a new resort, Walt Disney World is continuing to grow and change – even on the brink of its 40th birthday.

“As an opening day cast member, I’m excited to see Fantasyland further transformed into Walt Disney’s original vision of a place where fairy tales come true,” Phil Holmes, vice president of Magic Kingdom park and a 40-year Disney theme park veteran, said in a news release.

“By showcasing modern-day classics like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ alongside Walt’s first animated feature, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,’ our cast members will bring these stories to life in a way like never before, creating even more wonderful memories for our guests,” Holmes added.

Holmes’ started his Disney park career as a Haunted Mansion greeter.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the changes:

Fantasyland Expansion

In 2009, Disney officials announced a major overhaul and expansion to Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.

When complete, the expanded Fantasyland will feature a Little Mermaid-themed attraction, similar to what Disney is building in California, and an expanded Dumbo attraction. The new land, originally slated to include a number of princess-themed attractions, will also include a Seven Dwarves Mine Train.

The new and expanded Fantasyland is expected to complete by 2013. As part of the expansion, Mickey’s Toontown Fair closed; Snow White’s Scary Adventure attraction will also close.

Art of Animation Resort

The newest Walt Disney World resort, a 2,000-room value resort, is expected to be open by 2012.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will feature 1,120 family suites – to be located in The Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo wings of the resort – and 864 standard “themed” rooms – to be located in The Little Mermaid wing. The suites will have both a bedroom and a living room.

Avatar comes to the Animal Kingdom

Avatar is coming to the Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World said earlier this month.

The theme park is teaming with filmmaker James Cameron to “create themed lands that will give theme park guests the opportunity to explore the mysterious universe of (Avatar) first hand,” the company said in a news release. The first such themed land is planned for the Animal Kingdom.

“This exciting new venture combines the world of Avatar with the enormous reach of Disney and the incomparable talent of Jim Cameron,” Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said in a joint statement. “While Jim is bringing audiences further into Pandora with the next two chapters in the Avatar motion picture saga, the theme park attraction will likewise bring a new dimension to the amazing universe he created.”

Pleasure Island transformation on hold

Walt Disney World’s “Hyperion Wharf” project, floated as a replacement for Pleasure Island, has been put on indefinite hold, the Orlando Sentinel reported previously.

“Hyperion Wharf” was touted as a “nostalgic yet modern take on an early 20th century port city.” The wharf would have been named for Hyperion, the Greek god of light, and the street where Walt Disney’s first “major” animation studio was located.

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1 Comment

  1. we went to florida just over 5 years ago and our party csotisned of a 11 year old,5 year old and a disabled wheelchair bound 77 year old. i found the accomadation excellent because we had adjoining rooms with a roll in shower so i could roll a wheelchair in with ease and still have room for dressing. the americans catered for disabled people everywhere we went such as public transport to all the theme parks where the disabled passenger and their family where loaded on the bus first then allowed of the bus first, their safety was also paramount as they were strapped down securely before travelling.florida is in a LEAGUE OF ITS OWN as far as disabled visitors are concerned because they have everything thought out.

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